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Can create fresh water by boiling the sea with a giant magnifying glass? Is suffering necessary for us to appreciate the beauty in life? What about asteroids and super-volcanos! Should a heart be judged by how much it loves or by how much it's loved?

 Intro (00:00)


Hank: (In a raspy voice)Hello and welcome to "Dear Hank and John"
 
John: Or as I would prefer to think of it, Audrey Hepburn, “Dear John and Hank." Katherine Hepburn. Damn it, I missed the joke. We gotta redo the into.
 
Hank: (laughs)
 
(intro music)
 
Hank: Hello and welcome to "Dear Hank and John."
 
John: Or as I would prefer to think of it, Au- god, I did it again. Damn it, Katherine. I'm ready. Do it.
 
Hank: (laughs) I did not- anyways, it's a comedy podcast, in which me and my brother, John, answer your questions, bring you dubious advice, and brings you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon, and, also, we talk about how we're doing and read you a short poem, and tell you about our sponsors.
 
How you doing John?
 
John: I'm doing well. I have a bit of a cold, so I'm coming to you today with my husky voice.
 
Hank: Ah, okay. I'm coming to you today with my half-Sprite-half-soda water from Subway.
 
John: Uugh.
 
Hank: (shakes cup) Sponsor!
 
John: Oh, man. What I wouldn't give to get some of that sweet sweet half-Sprite-half-soda water money.
 
Hank: I call it Splite.
 
John: Because it's so light, because it only has, like, 70 calories per 12 ounces.
 
Hank: Yeah, it's 50% of the calories.
 
John: Oh, my goodness.
 
Hank: I can not drink straight Sprite anymore, it is so sweet that I have to do this now, in order to - I've gotten to the point now where even not watered down fruit juices or sodas to me just taste like just ground up jolly rancher, like, piped straight into my mouth.
 
John: I have to say, I have also lost my taste for full calorie soda. I fear that this is part of middle age encroaching. I remember being a kid and seeing all the grownups drinking Diet Coke and thinking that there was nothing on the earth sadder than these grownups drinking Diet Coke and here I am.
 
Hank: Yeah, our mom would have just bubble water. Just like flavored, but not sweetened soda water.
 
John: Yeah. 
 
Hank: And I remember one time, grabbing one of those and being like "Well, Mom likes these," and having one and just thinking just how disgusting that was.
 
John: Yeah, me too.
 
Hank: And now, I drink it all the time. I drink it all the time. The La croix, I'm all about the La croix John.
 
John: Hank, as I speak to you I am drinking a grapefruit La croix and it is phenomenal. I don't know what was wrong with my teenage taste buds that they couldn't appreciate the subtle grapefruit notes in this La croix.
 
Hank: [chuckles] So many...
 
John: Can I read you a short poem?
 
Hank: Yeah. OK, do that.
 
John: Hank, in honor-- last week we talked about David Bowie's death, it's now been like six weeks since David Bowie died, but I've just now gotten the poem together. This is actually lyrics from David Bowie's song Eight Line Poem, I thought I'd read today in honor of the great David Bowie.
 
The tactful cactus by your window
Surveys the prairie of your room
The mobile spins to its collision
Clara puts her head between her paws
They've opened shops down West side
Will all the cacti find a home
But the key to the city
Is in the sun that pins
the branches to the sky
 
Eight Line Poem, by David Bowie
 
Hank: It's like David Bowie knew that we were gonna need a short poem for today and so he was like. "You know, well, it's the 70's. In about 40 years, somebody's gonna need an eight line poem, and so I'll write you one, boom."
 
John: Well we appreciate it, David Bowie, and all of your other gifts to our broken and only humanity as well.
 

 Podcast Feedback 1 (03:59)


 
John: Hank, should we answer some questions from listeners?
 
Hank: Uh, first, we've got some general feedback about the podcast that I want to check.
 
John: I want to apologize in advance for all the times I was wrong about science.
 
Hank: This one is from Hamish who says "Love the podcast, bright spot in my week. There's a herd of feral cows on Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia. I nearly drove into one on a dark night, big shaggy thing. Keep it up." So there are feral cows out there John, in British Columbia. It does not surprise me. If they were gonna be anywhere it would be in BC.
 
John: Yeah. If I were gonna be a feral cow OR a human being and I could choose anyplace to live on Earth it would probably be British Columbia.
 
Hank: Oh really? Well unfortunately you can't.
 
John: Yeah, probably. Just because of the-- it's relatively mild climate--
 
Hank: [laughs] Relative to...?
 
John: And it's in Canada. Relative to the rest of Canada. What I'm trying to do is find a way to live in Canada and also live in Hawaii. Ideally Canada would invade Hawaii, but short of that I'm going to have to live in British Columbia.
 
Hank: Ok. Well I think it would be great if Canada just annexed Hawaii and then all of the people could have Canadian laws and Hawaiian weather. That would be the best of all things. 
 
John: You know what Canada doesn't have, Hank?
 
Hank: What?
 
John: Pennies!
 
Hank: Really?
 
John: No, they got rid of their penny.
 
Hank: They did, yeah, I heard about that.
 
John: No, no, because they were like "you know what we should do? We should be rational economic actors in this world and get rid of pennies."
 
Hank: Yep.
 
John: Whereas the United States government is "Ehhhh, let's keep spending two cents on these suckers that nobody uses to facilitate the exchange of goods."
 
Hank: I recently heard an argument for the existence of pennies that I agreed with.
 
John: Oh, shut up.
 
Hank: I know, I know. I was shocked as well. Do you wanna hear it?
 
John: Hold, on. I've gotta have a sip of my grapefruit liqueur to get ready for this crap.
 
Hank: Okay, well, I think that you will..
 
John: Ah, that's refreshing.
 
Hank: ...agree to some extent that it is not a terrible reason for pennies to exist.
 
John: Okay, bring it.
 
Hank: In a lot of nations that are not America, 
 
John: Yeah,
 
Hank: they nonetheless use American currency.
 
John: Correct.
 
Hank: And in those places, the difference between one cent and five cents is a big difference. For example, a bus fare might be seven cents, and going down to five cents, economically, would not work for the people running the bus line; and going up to ten would be a huge hit to the people who take that bus. And so, like a one cent increase in bus fare, for example, often results in protests and significant problems economically. 
 
John: Okay, a couple things. I've just got to cut you off because you're so wrong. 
 
Hank: Alright. 
 
John: Okay, so in this hypothetical...
 
Hank: This is a real thing.
 
John: ...world, I assume we're talking about maybe Venezuela in 1972? 
 
Hank: No. I heard this from a congressional staffer.
 
John: There is no place on earth right now where US currency is used for bus fares that are part of the public service of a country other than the United States, because nowhere on earth other than the United States is the US dollar an official currency. So, putting the bus example aside, there are places where goods are somewhat less expensive than they are in the United States or where less-expensive goods are frequently traded, or less-expensive services are frequently traded in exchange for currency. In none of these places - none of them - is anything worth a penny, because pennies are less than worthless. But if that were true, and if someone can show me an actual example of that being true, I will slightly revise my opinion on pennies to that we should no longer mint them except insofar as there is demand for them, and we should begin rounding immediately all of our transactions in the United States to the nearest dime.
 

 Podcast Feedback 2 (08:36)


 
Hank: So we've got another question. This is from Alison, it's not a question, just another comment, "You both, especially John, like discussing how many things will lead to widespread death. I really enjoy listening to your comedy podcast, yet I find myself wondering if there is really anything in the world that will not lead to widespread death."
 
John: Yeah, Purell.
 
Hank: Yeah, I guess. I guess Purell will not lead to widespread death, but nothing does lead to widespread death. Like, there will inevitably be widespread death, but the question is, will there also be widespread birth? 
 
John: Right. 
 
Hank: That's sort of, like, will the widespread death be spread out over a relatively long, you know normal sort...or will there be spikes? Spikes is the thing you want to avoid. A nice level death rate, absolutely fine and wonderful, and that's of course what we're going for. What we want is for the same number of people to die pretty much every year. 
 
John: Well, ideally, we'd like that number to go down. 
 
Hank: In fact, I was sort of shocked to find that it does go down. Because it seems like, oh no, people die and so the number of people who get born and the number of people who who die--it's just like, it should be the same over time, but it's really not. The number of people who die per year has decreased substantially. 
 
John: Yeah, oh no, it is so much better to be alive today then it was like 1500 years ago. It is difficult to even calculate it but essentially the global death rate has dropped dramatically, like it’s dropped by almost half.
Hank: Right, but the thing is like you would not necessarily think that because the rate has decreased that the number has decreased. Because it seems sort of like the number of people who die is equal to the number of people who are still alive. In the long term.
John: But the birth rate to be fair has also dropped a lot.
Hank: Yes, yeah. But as people live longer, fewer people die per year, because you have more years in when you can die. It is sort of counterintuitive and it took me a little while for me to get my mind around the fact that actually fewer people die per year. Which is neat. So yes we want the number of people who die per year to go down slowly or as quickly as possible. No spikes. So when we talk about wide spread death we are talking about spikes in the death which we really do not want those. That is what we are trying to avoid. 
 

 Podcast Feedback 3 (11:18)


 
And the last comment we have from a listener, this is from Lauren. Just wants us to know that the Insight Lander, which we talked about being delayed substantially a few weeks ago. That her father is the lead propulsion person at Lockheed, on that mission which is super cool. I don't know I just like the world is small and that people are doing cool things, John.
John: I wish her father great luck getting that thing to Mars.
 

 Question 1 (11:50)


 
Hank: Alright John, let's do some actual questions. Go!
John: Alright Hank we got a question here from Andy who writes Dear John and Hank, I am working on production of Wizard of Oz and every day after giving the tinman his heart the wizard says “remember my sentimental friend, a heart is not judge about how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.” This rings false to me. [Hank laughs] I would like to know if you agree or disagree with the wizard and why." Thanks for your question, Andy. Uhm... Yeah, so, one of the things that I've noticed over the years is that things that sound like aphorisms often become, sort of used in common language as if they were true, even though when you really look at them they aren't. The best example of this to me is from the book Love Story, which was turned into this big hit movie. It was this tragic story, really The Fault in Our Stars in some ways I built as a response to Love Story or trying to like, address some of the things that I saw as romanticized in it, but it was this huge hit book in the 70's. And this famous line from it that was in common discourse for decades was "love means never having to say your sorry." which of course is ridiculous, everyone who's ever been in love knows that it means constantly having to say your sorry, and if you don't ever say that you're sorry... what a meanie you're being to this person you love! I do think that there's something about this wizard's line here that I find troubling, because loving is important just as being loved is important and I don't think you can really ever fully separate them.
Hank: Yeah, I don't think that we should take what is written -- especially what is said by characters in books, as definite truth. I mean, obviously the wizard is supposed to be this wise man -- which is probably supposed to be where the word "wizard" comes from, now that I think about it. Wise-ard. He's a wise-ard. But, yeah, I think that the way that you think about love should be the way you think about love.
 
J: Yeah, I just, I don't buy the idea that, uh, a heart should be judged either way - by how much it loves or by how much it is loved.
 
H: (laughs)
 
J: Like, who's doing the judging? The wizard? Yeah. I don't know. I'm troubled by that line, even though there's a lot that I like about The Wizard of Oz.
 

 Question 2 (14:17)


 
H: I've got another question from Brandon, who asks: 
 
"Dear Hank and John,
 
So you know how California has a water shortage? Why can't they just hold a big magnifying glass over the sea to create water vapor and then collect that salt-free water vapor and then condense it into usable water? Love the show."
 
Well, I do know that, that in science fiction I have seen this idea. It was not used to- in the book I'm thinking of it was not used to create water vapor, it was used to create a number of other gases and also to build a canal, so basically burning a ditch in the earth and connecting two bodies of water. But, yeah I mean you would have to have a way of lifting that giant magnifying glass into the air, which would be extremely energy-intensive, and keeping it there. One potential thing you could do is actually put that in orbit, or build it in orbit so that it is either a mirror or a magnifying glass that is focusing the sun's energy on the water. Now, you are also going to have a ton of ecological consequences here, so as you are boiling this water you are also heating up the water, which means that you are changing the local, like the local temperature of the sea dramatically, which is going to really affect the aquatic life there, it's going to mess up that. And then you have to collect this water, which you probably wouldn't do. You would probably just have it rise up and only do it on days when the wind was blowing the direction that you'd want it to blow, and then it would fall on the land, which is great because then you don't have to create any infrastructure, you'd just recharge the aquifers and the water falls on the crops and it's all good. So yeah, it's not something that would not work. It is probably more energy-intensive, though, than just creating a desalination plant, which is extremely energy-intensive, which is why they haven't done that yet. But they might, in the long-term, have to do that desalination or desalinization - I think those words mean the same thing - it's probably in the long-term future for California, which is kind of scary.
 
J: Well I think that everyone should just move right here to Indianapolis, where we have tons of water. We just- we almost have too much of it.
 
H: (laughs) It's probably difficult to move all the fruit trees that have been growing there for the last 200 years.
 
J: No, they'd do great here. Are you kidding? We can grow a tangerine like nobody's business here in Indianapolis.
 
H: (laughs) 
 
J: It's 4 degrees outside right now, does that effect things at all?
 

 Question 3 (17:03)


 
Alright, Hank, we've got another question. This one is from Katherine, who writes:
 
"Dear John and Hank,
 
I recently saw the movie Inside Out and it made me think about a quote from The Fault in Our Stars"
 
This is a very controversial quote from my novel The Fault in Our Stars, by the way, Hank.
 
H: Mmhmm.
 
J: " 'The existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate.' Inside Out seems to argue the exact opposite, that without sadness we can't truly feel joy. I was wondering what you two thought of Inside Out and its overall message, especially with this quote in mind. What would our lives be like if we had never suffered? Is suffering necessary for us to see the beauty in life?"
 
H: Yeah, I feel like, John, you've thought about this way more than me so, like, I cannot really wrap my mind around this because I don't know what life would be like if I hadn't lived the way that I have.
 
J: Well of course I also don't, and I don't know if joy is sweeter for having suffered, or if the more you suffer the sweeter joy becomes. What I do know is that a lot of times, people use that idea as a way of telling people who are suffering what to feel, or as a way of telling people who are suffering what the meaning of their suffering is, and that strikes me as dehumanizing and infuriating. And that strikes me as dehumanizing and infuriating, and I think that's what Hazel was responding to in the novel when she said that. But she does say the existence of broccoli doesn't affect the taste of chocolate, not the taste of broccoli doesn't affect the taste of chocolate, because of course the taste of broccoli does, I mean, literally affect the taste of chocolate, like if you eat it immediately before or immediately after, like it does affect the way that your taste buds respond to chocolate.
 
Hank: If you had broccoli-flavored chocolate, or like chocolate with broccoli bits in it. Then--
 
John: Which sounds kind of delicious I have to say.
 
Hank: Then the broccoli would definitely, definitely affect the flavor of the chocolate.
 
John: Myself, I like both broccoli and chocolate, so I don't know. So I don't know, I kind of have a problem with this false dichotomy that Hazel has created in my book, but anyway...
 
Hank: *chuckling*
 
John: I can't speak to what life would be like without sadness. I do not, however, buy into this argument that we suffer so that we can learn lessons, or that we suffer so that we can become, you know, better, more grateful, more joyful people. I think that there are cheaper ways to learn these lessons than the kind of suffering that many people live with. 
 
Hank: Uh-huh.
 
John: And I, and if that's, if I'm wrong about that if some people find comfort or feel that their lives, you know, become richer through suffering then maybe I'm wrong. But what I don't want impose this worldview upon others when they are going through hard times that they may or may not find transformative, or useful.
 
Hank: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. I mean I think that a lot of it isn't about joy or suffering, it's about the feeling of what a good life is. Yeah. I think that a lot of it isn't about joy or suffering, it's about the feeling of what a good life is. And I'm sort of playing with this idea very cursorily here, I don't have a lot of, I haven't really developed this line of reasoning, but, that it's more about what is seen as a good life, and there is a lot about how we live our lives that isn't really about bringing joy into our lives, it's about how to feel as if we are having a good one. And, obviously now we have a great deal more luxury just by virtue of hot water coming out of our houses, and the internet, and being able to choose from a number of different cuisines every night, that we did not previously have, as Americans and also as humans. And, so like, it's nice, because those things are like, like hot water is a great example that most people in America have, and most people in America take for granted, and what a lovely thing to be able to take a hot shower on a cold day, despite the fact that I have always had that luxury. I try to remember what a great luxury it is, and that most people who have ever existed have not had that luxury. 
 
J: Yeah, and I see your point that you probably can't appreciate that in the way that someone who is taking their first hot shower would appreciate it. I guess for me, you know, my thinking when I was writing that was how often we hear these narratives, because of the way we construct what constitutes a good life, we often hear these narratives of "Well I went through this and I came out on the other side stronger, healthier, happier, more joyful, more grateful, whatever," but what if there is no other side? You know, for Hazel there really is no other side. There is not going to be a time in her life when she is what other people would call healthy. There is not going to be a time in her life where she is completely able-bodied. She's not getting better; she's just living in this sort of stasis where she's able to treat her cancer but she's not able to cure it, and I think imagining what constitutes a good life, and excluding someone like Hazel, is really troubling to me. And that's where the idea came from. I certainly don't want to argue that, you know, everyone has equal access to the same kinds of joy at all times or anything like that, yeah. I don't know. I, myself have mixed feelings about the quote, but what can I do. The book came out.
 
H: (laughs) Well said, John. Well said. That means a lot to me as a person who likes your books a lot, and that is a very separate thing of course, than the question, but I really do appreciate how intense and weird it is to, four years later, have a book that you know a lot of people love, and to not feel like it is in any way perfect or something that you still have mixed feelings about, and obviously I think that-- I like that book a lot. I've read it a lot, several times since it came out, and it's so interesting to-- you know, you are my brother and I see you as my brother and the sort of way I feel about my favorite authors is very different from the way that I feel about my brother, and yet you are also one of my favorite authors. So it is always really interesting to hear you talk about the complexities of your relationship with your work. 
 
John: Thank you. I mean, it's definitely a difficult thing to have something out in the world for years and years after you were last able to touch it and change it and of course, I've changed and learned since then. And of course you never know if that makes you a better writer or a worse one. I always think about W. H. Auden later in his life going back and revising all of his poems, and he thought he was making them better and he was making them so, so much worse. There's, probably the greatest, most quoted line of W. H. Auden's poetry is "We must love one another or die" and he later edited that to "We must love one another and die" which is more true but less good.
 
Hank: [laughs] That is a really different message! Deeply, deeply different.
 
John: Yeah it's like he forgot what he meant in the intervening years. Yeah, there's a lot of examples like that where you just, you read the edited versions of the poem and you're just like "oh my goodness, how did you convince yourself that this was a step in the right direction?" So my feeling is just that, you know, all of my books, even the day that they come out, I have to just say "this is something that I did in a period of my life that reflected my very best attempt to write the best story that I could and that's all it is" You know? Like it's a snapshot of that time of the creative output that I was capable of in that moment or in those years and that's all it can be. And you have to let go of it, and you have to let it have a life outside of your own. I mean one of the weird things about having The Fault in Our Stars come out and reach such a broad audience is that lots of people have interpreted it in ways that, I frankly am uncomfortable with, you know? Books belong to their readers, but there is still an author out there thinking "No no no, that's not what I meant at all!"
 
Hank: [giggles] Yeah.
 
John: And you just have to live with that, you know, like if you hear from someone that The Fault in Our Stars taught them to be grateful for every day, even though Hazel makes fun of that within the very text of the novel like, you just have to let it go.
 
Hank: Yeah.
 
John: He said, clearly not letting it go.
 

 Question 4 (26:24)


 
Hank: [laughs] Ok here's another question, John, it's from Adam who says "Dear Hank and John, you spend a lot of time talking about your apocalypse fears, as a geoscientist I was distraught to learn that some of the most exciting and potentially devastating geologic catastrophes didn't make the list. John, have you considered how close to the Yellowstone supervolcano you live? Hank, how ready do you think humanity is to deflect a large asteroid if one were to be about to strike us? These, along with sudden, rapid climate change are my top three apocalypses, the ones that tend to keep me up at night."
 
Uuuuuh, those are all potential apocalypses that I am aware of. The Yellowstone supervolcano doesn't bug me that much, despite the fact that I live very close to it.
 
John: Wait, what is the Yellowstone supervolcano, how is it going to kill all of us, and when is it going to erupt?
 
Hank: So Yellowstone National-- have you ever been to Yellowstone, John?
 
John: Yup
 
Hank: So Yellowstone National Park is one of the most--
 
John: But I'm never going back.
 
Hank: Frankly, if the Yellowstone supervolcano were to erupt, I think Yellowstone National Park would be the best place to be, because you wanna die fast.
 
John: [chuckles] Oh good lord. [Sarcastically] Great.
 
Hank: It depends on which way the wind's blowing, literally, but Yellowstone National Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, it is a fairly untouched wilderness, but one that has a road running through the middle of it so you can go see some of the more spectacular parts of it, and those spectacular parts are generally driven by geothermal activity. The park itself is mostly inside of a caldera of a volcano that-- I don't know how long ago it was, but it was a very long time ago, that erupted, and cast ash over the majority of North America. it has erupted many times and we are aware of, you know, we can sort of see in the geological record four or five of those, and it is at least one of the biggest volcanoes on Earth it is-- when you are inside of the Yellowstone Caldera, you do not feel like you are inside of a caldera because it is so large. You basically just feel like there's some mountains around, but you are inside of a crater that was formed when a huge, like basically an area like, I would not be surprised if you could fit Rhode Island inside of it (though I'm sure you can't) a very large area, was just ejected into the atmosphere and then what happens is a long period of time that does not have normal amounts of sunlight, which changes the weather very dramatically and potentially would result in an inability to grow food. And that would be the thing that would kill a lot of people in America. It probably would have a very significant global impact as well, but there would be a lot of people in America who would immediately die by being buried in ash.
 
John: This is not likely though, this is not something that happens every five years.
 
Hank: No. You know, people will say like "we're due for one," but what that means is that they occur within a certain number of years from each other and we're sort of roughly around, like we're inside of the time in which this could happen again. But, if it were going to happen again, there would be a number of tremendous geological changes that we would be seeing. These eruptions happen after a lot of pressure starts building up underneath the caldera and what you would see is literally the ground would be rising at a rate of feet or meters per day.
 
John: Oh god.
 
Hank: So we're nowhere near that, though there is like flex in the ground in Yellowstone that it will rise and fall by feet or meters per year - which is really remarkable - and they've only been doing research on this for the last 50 years or so, but we are not seeing anywhere like the kind of geological activity that would result in the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting. So basically my guess is that we are thousands of years away from the supervolcano erupting, so it does not concern me.
 
John: Alright. What about the asteroids?
 
Hank: Asteroids are more of a crapshoot, which is why I don't concern myself with them, because you can't really know and what we're doing right now to try and get a better handle on the near-Earth objects is, I think, appropriate, and if we identified a near-Earth object that was going to strike Earth that was large enough to be concerned with, I would actually like to see humanity band together and take care of that, because I think that's something that we could take care of. And I would like to see us do it.
 
John: Don't you also think that we might have a lot of debates about whether the asteroid's really gonna hit Earth, or whether the science might be wrong on this, and how this is gonna be a future generation's problem, not our problem?
 
Hank: No, I think that NASA--probably NASA---would find it first. They would ask other observatories, on the order of days to weeks, to confirm, and then it would be confirmed. I don't think it would be, it's not, it's pretty easy to figure that stuff out.
 
John: So you're saying there would be widespread scientific agreement that this asteroid was about to hit earth. My counterargument to that would be climate change.
 
Hank: *laughs* Yeah, I think that asteroids are much scarier than climate change, despite the fact that climate change is actually a much more significant threat. And I do agree with Adam--
 
John: I was gonna say, I'm MUCH more worried about climate change than I'm worried about asteroids and that's saying something because I can worry.
 
Hank: *laughs* Alright, uh, well I think we've spent a lot of time on Adam's question, but you know, it's Dear Hank and John, so we can't NOT spend time talking about the apocalypse!
 

 Sponsors (33:01)


 
John: Uh, speaking of which...Hank, did you know that today's podcast is actually brought to you by Sudden Rapid Climate Change? Sudden Rapid Climate Change: a thing that many people this is impossible, just not scientists. 
 
Hank: This podcast is also brought to you by Broccoli-Flavored Chocolate, something about which John feels ambivalent, because, in fact, in this case, broccoli does affect the flavor of chocolate.
 
John: And of course, this podcast is also brought to you by California's Water Shortage. California's Water Shortage: don't worry, we'll just put a huge magnifying glass in space.
 
Hank: *laughs* It's all taken care of!
 
John: *laughs*
 
Hank: I love it! 
 

 Question 5 (33:40)


 
We're going to do one last question, John, does that sound okay to you?
 
John: Sure.
 
Hank: Alright. This one is from Paula, who asks "Dear Hank and John: I just found out that the amazing Stephen Colbert is a fan of The Mountain Goats, that his favorite planet is Mars, and that he's basically the biggest Tolkien geek the world has ever seen. I think that's just one step away from becoming a lifelong Nerdfighter. Is there any secret plan that has evolved about how to act in these kind of situations? What shall we do? Crash the Late Show with an army of puppy-sized elephants?
 
J: Well, you know, Hank, I had the chance to meet Stephen Colbert, um, not too long ago, and the coolest thing about it - I mean I was generally very very impressed with him - he came in and talked to me a bunch about the show. He was like, "I play a character, I'm not really that person." and I was like "I've seen the show, man." and he was like "Oh thanks, thanks, thanks for your support." Um, I was just like "Do people come here who haven't seen the show?" Anyway.
 
In between segments of The Colbert Report, his previous show, he played the exact same Neutral Milk Hotel song every time, and I was like "I love this song, and I love this album." and he said "Yeah, I love it, too." he said "Every taping I try to find someone in the crowd who's singing along with it and lock eyes with them, and then we sing the words together." And I was like "That is so cool, Stephen Colbert! That is so, like, I'm so glad that you told me that after our little bit together, because I could not have handled meeting you if I knew it before."
 
H: This is a very unrelated story but I was at a hockey game recently, Missoula has a very small hockey team.
 
J: What's the mascot?
 
H: The mascot is Slash, who is a wolf. They are The Maulers. I'm very ambivalent- or I'm just going to go ahead and say that I do not like that our hockey team is called the Maulers, and that their mascot is a wolf, because there is a lot of sort of anti-wolf sentiment in this part of the country and I am not a part of it. But anyway, I was at this hockey game, and Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon came on, one of my favorite songs of 2015, and a girl is walking to her seat, and she's singing along, with just these dead, dead eyes. And Shut Up And Dance is a very fun, sort of summertime, and she's just like singing. She knows every word, but like she's somewhere else. She does not know that she is singing along, she's thinking about her algebra test and how she did very poorly on it, but she is mouthing those words to Shut Up And Dance no problem. And I was just like, "I have never seen a more sad person singing along to Walk The Moon's Shut Up And Dance".
 
J: Hank, do you know where Walk The Moon formed?
 
H: Indianapolis, Indiana?
 
J: Incorrect! They formed at my Alma Mater, Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio.
 
H: Ooooh, interesting.
 
J: There you go.
 
H: Wow, So many famous people coming out of Kenyon College!
 
J: So many people.
 
H: You, those guys...
 
J: Allison Janney.
 
H: I don't know who that is.
 
J: She's the press secretary on The West Wing, and also she's been in a million movies.
 
H: Oh, CJ Craig?!
 
J: Yeah. I know, she's great!
 
H: I love her. She's great!
 

 News from Mars (37:00)


 
J: Let's move on to the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon. Hank, do you want to go first, or do you want me to, or do you want to do Rock, Paper, Scissors?
 
H: Auughhuuughhh, I wanna do Rock, Paper, Scissors, John!
 
J: Alright, ready?
 
H&J: One, two, three,
 
J: Paper!
 
H: I did paper, too. Okay.
 
H&J: One, two, three,
 
J: Paper!
 
H: Scissors. OOOOOH!
 
J: Did you wait to say scissors until after I'd said paper?
 
H: No! Nah, it's just a little bit of a lag...
 
J: Ooooh, I don't know. I don't know if that was lag, but okay, you go first.
 
H: It's just a little bit of a lag. Alright, uh, we've got some news from the federal government! On December 18, 2015 (I know that's a little dated now, but we're catching up still from the break) President Obama signed the spending bill! The budget that funded the federal government through the fiscal year of 2016, which included $19.3 billion for NASA, an increase of $1.3 billion from last year. So a huge hunk of that is going toward the line item that includes Orion and the space launch system, and that is the new rocket that is going to be taking astronauts to the space station and beyond! And beyond includes possibly an asteroid mission, also includes possibly a Mars mission. And that actually got more money than they asked for, which is great because that is sort of on the trajectory toward getting big payload missions to Mars, bigger payload missions to Mars than we've been able to do before, that could potentially include having humans involved in those missions. So thank you to the federal government for continuing to fund NASA, and humanity's reach into the next foothold in the solar system that could hopefully be Mars.
 
J: And congratulations to the United States Congress on passing its first budget in like six or seven years. It's just amazing work, guys. So proud of you. People said you could never do it, that you'd only fund the federal government for a week at a time, and you did that. You kicked the can down the road for like years and years, but then finally you did it. You signed a budget. Great work, guys.
 

 News from AFC Wimbledon (39:22)


 
In AFC Wimbledon news, Hank, AF Wimbledon as I'm recording this still hasn't played a game since their astonishing, astonishing 4-1 victory over Cambridge United, which was good also for their goal difference. But Hank, the Under 18 team, which I talked about beating Newcastle last week. Now Hank, I'm sure you recall what happened, the reason AFC Wimbledon was formed in the first place, right?
 
H: Yes! I know all about that story.
 
J: Basically that there was a team Wimbledon FC, that had a wonderful history going back to the 1800s, and then it was stolen away from them when the English Football Association, the governing body of English football, declared that Wimbledon FC would be moved. And do you remember where they were moved to?
 
H: They were moved... I don't, John. I don't.
 
J: Milton Keynes. 
 
H: Yeah, that's never going to stick.
 
J: And so they became, they call themselves the MK Dons because they claim some semblance of history associated with Wimbledon, which is complete crap, and they need to stop saying that. But they're just a franchise, basically, they're not a real football club. However, they play as if they were a real football club. And in Milton Keynes they have some support and I don't begrudge people who supported- who began supporting them after the move.
 
Anyway, long story short, occasionally AFC Wimbledon will play Milton Keynes, the franchise. I once heard, by the way, Hank, a radio commentary of a game between AFC Wimbledon and Milton Keynes in which at no point did either of the announcers say the word "Milton", the word "Keynes", or any of the player names. They were referred to only as, "the franchise" and they would be like "And now the franchise's right winger has the ball, and now he has passed it to one of the franchise's forwards." It was amazing. There is unfortunately still one Milton Keynes player who was a Wimbledon player, and I have never heard a player booed that consistently over 90 minutes in my entire life. I felt bad for the kid, he was just signing the only professional contract that he had access to, felt like he couldn't say no, but boy, has he lived to regret it.
 
Anyway, the Under 18 team. Every time AFC Wimbledon plays Milton Keynes in any capacity, whether it's the 7-year-old girls' team, the 13-year-old boys' team, whatever it is, it is a big game, right? Because this is the team that essentially forced AFC Wimbledon into existence by stealing away the club. So it is a big game, like it's essentially a game- for instance, when Milton Keynes and AFC Wimbledon play, the AFC Wimbledon supporters always sing to the Milton Keynes supporters "Who were you you, who were you, who were you when you were us?" which I think puts a nice period on the situation. 
 
So! When the Under 18 team played Milton Keynes, it's a big, big game, even if it's just a youth game. And AFC Wimbledon won 2-1, sending the franchise right where it belongs, to ignominity.
 
H: Yeah! Ignominity!
 
J: Yeah!
 
H: Yeah!
 
J: Who were you when you were us? That is the greatest chant I've ever heard in football, I think. 
 
H: It's good.
 
J: It's just so perfect. The other one they sing is "Stand up if you own your club" because everybody who supports AFC Wimbledon is also an owner of the team. I should add, by the way, Hank, that AFC Wimbledon, not because I am a celebrity sponsor of the club or anything, AFC Wimbledon sent both of my children Christmas cards. My children are both members of the Junior Dons, which costs like $25 a month. If you're under 18, you can be a ju- not $25 a month, $25 a YEAR. If you're under 18 you can be a Junior Don for $25 a year. If you're over 18, you can own part of the club for only like $80 a year. And you get to be an owner of the team and support this great institution.
 
Anyway, they sent Henry and Alice both cards signed by a bunch of the players, including Adebayo Akinfenwa, Henry's favorite player. It was so cool of them! They do that every year! They send Henry and Alice birthday cards and Christmas cards every year, signed by the players. It's so sweet, it's so awesome. I think it says a lot about the kind of club that they are.
 
J: Yeah, so I wanted to say thank you for that as well.
 
H: Alright. I appreciate that! Thank you to AFC Wimbledon for being pretty cool. I think cooler than most football clubs, though that does not necessarily manage to hold my interest.
 
J: *laughs* They are a lot cooler than most football clubs. And don't worry, all the talk about Mars bores me as well.
 

 Outro (44:30)


 
H: *laughs* Alright. Um, thanks for podcasting, John! What did we learn today?
 
J: Well, we learned that there are feral cows on an island off of British Columbia living my dream.
 
H: It's pretty remarkable. We learned that John Green has a complicated relationship with the things that he's created, and has to just let them go, which he cannot do.
 
J: And of course, we learned a new reason to fear the end of the world! A gigantic Yellowstone volcano, and/or comet coming from space, and/or rapid climate change.
 
H: And of course we learned that the things that Hank and John are scared about are not people dying, we are in favor of people dying at the same or lower rate than they currently are, but what we want to be afraid of are the spikes. Avoid the spikes!
 
J: We hate the spikes. We are strongly opposed to spikes.
 
H: And we learned of course that The Wizard of Oz is a truly wise ard. 
 
J: *laughs* I wonder if that's the actual etymology of that word. I would be interested to find out. And in fact, I'm going to find out while you do the outro here.
 
H: Well, I already looked it up! It is from WISE ARD. Literally!
 
J: *laughs* You are correct!
 
H: I don't know what an ard is, but I'm clicking on "ard". Uhhh, oh, it forms a noun. It's like saying, a wisey-guy. Like a wise guy.
 
J: Or a drunk-ard. A drunkard.
 
H: A drunk-ard, yeah. Wizard. Ahhh, AAAAaaahh, AAAHHHH! Neat! Thanks for making a podcast with me, John! And confirming that my etymology is correct, you wise-ard!
 
J: Uh, that word by the way, ard, really reached its pinnacle back in about 1730. And it's been steadily declining in significance since. But we still have wizard and drunkard. That's something.
 
Alright, thanks so much for listening to Dear Hank and John. You can email us at hankandjohn@gmail.com with your questions. You can also use the hashtag #dearhankandjohn on the Twitter, where I'm @johngreen. Hank is @hankgreen. This podcast is edited by Nicholas Jenkins, our theme music is by Gunnarolla. And as we say in our hometown,
 
H&J: Don't forget to be awesome.